Monday, December 15, 2008

ninety minutes of sweating each day for this...

Don't you just love those days when you wake up and you just know that you are going to have a pretty spectacular day? Well, ever since I've moved my bed under my window when I wake up I slowly yank the curtain back to observe how the day looks and unlike the dreary, greyness that has been plaguing our days, the sun was brightly shining (not to fool anyone that it was warm outside.) I nearly leaped into the shower and was like, oh, yeah, today's exam day. I didn't stress about my exam at all today because I knew I'd do about as good as I would ever do.

Today also marks the last day of my 2-week yoga trial at Saanich Bikram. I went with Tanya and had my best class yet! I bought the 3 month unlimited membership for next year and thought that I best make an entry to remind myself as to how yoga has transformed my life so I actually use my membership in '09. Now, just to note, I have been practicing yoga privately for the past year (thanks to Michaela and Becca showing it to me at STELLAR last year) so it's not like I just started all together. However, Bikram has made me feel the best since, well, ever.

Firstly, I must take a second to acknowledge that this is the first exam period that I didn't get sick during. I mean, usually I get really sick when I get so stressed and busy (even when I was in grade 9 this must have started) but this time around I felt way different, way better. I actually had a piece of mind to tackle studying with out getting way too tangled up with all the things I have to do that I don't start because I don't know where to begin. I learned how it affects my studying habits by how I felt studying this past weekend (when I didn't go) and the rest of the week when I did. I was far more concentrated and motivated on days that I did go and the 2 hour break from my day only enhanced my performance.

Also, in addition to a more calm, centered, self-assured mentality, my body feels has so much more energy and I can't explain how great a good camel or bow pose truly does feel! The flexibility is great but after attending 12 classes in those 14 days I feel noticeably stronger, more energetic and my posture is better. Not to mention, sweating for that long has done wonders for skin. It is so soft and I feel rejuvenated every single day!

Sleeping. As Jenelle will attest, I hardly need sleep to function which has led me to cutting it down to a good 7- 7 1/2 hours per night. I used to find it soooo difficult to fall asleep and hard to actually feel alive in the mornings (even if I'm awake and I know I can't go back to sleep.) These last 2 weeks I've had the best sleeps of my life, actually. I crawl in bed, maybe slip into Savasana for a few minutes and BANG I'm out. Then the morning roles around and BANG I'm up at 8:30 ready to role. It's amazing. I even read somewhere that after practicing Bikram you may even need less sleep because you are getting optimum rest when you do sleep and you are also dashed with a bonus dose of energy.

So, to conclude before I actually do pass out. My body, soul, spirit, everything seems to buzzing with this new energy and I'm so glad that I've had the opportunity to do yoga with some of my beautiful friends. I think I've start a long-term relationship with Bikram. Three cheers for sweating! (I'm weird, I know :D )


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Joyous Kwanzaa!

Christmas. This "C" word is often associated with another "C" word: Consumerism. While I, just like the next person, love to give gifts around the holiday season, I feel that at this certain time of year that should be reserved for compassion and gratitude, everyone gets way to swept up in the logistics of the holidays. Especially at this time in history with the looming recession everyone is so scared to "lose Christmas" because they can't afford the new iPod Touch and are willing to go to all ends to get deals. If the Wal-Mart employee who got trampled to death on Black Friday is not a wake up call to us mass consumers in North America than I don't know what is. I think it's safe to say that we have lost touch with the point of Christmas; a point best summarized by my good friend Aaron.
After watching the Muppet's "A Christmas Carol" with 10 amazing friends of mine, the movie shut off and we sat in the dark discussing what Christmas means to us. Aaron, our own Linus, gave an awesome speech about how the holidays should be a time of being with people you love and of unity and celebration. (I wish I could remember his exact words!) All of us 18 year olds were like, 'damn, Aaron's right.' I think even Sol agreed and he's Jewish! :D
What I've decided this year after facing many spiritual and religious crossroads recently is that it doesn't matter what you do or do not celebrate or believe in, it's about how you tune into that holiday magic that brightens up lives around the world at this meak time of year. Hence, I've decided my holiday greeting of choice is "Joyous Kwanzaa."
I took the liberty to decorate my dorm door whiteboard with a bright "JOYOUS KWANZAA" message that has given me the opportunity to inform people about the African holiday: Kwanzaa. Most people don't have the slightest idea to what it is (aside from those who were in my grade 7 class that performed "Kwanzaa Celebration" at the RLC Christmas Assembly!) This holiday was established in 1966 and aims to"...give Blacks an alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society." How wicked eh!?
What makes it even cooler is that it's celebrated from December26 to January 1st! Yes folks, that means you can celebrate Christmas for two days and then another seven celebrating Kwanzaa. What else appeals to me about this holiday (aside from the fact I've been in love with Africa, especially since WS 206: Globalization and Resistance) are the things that are celebrated during Kwanzaa. The main principles are: Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity and Faith. :D! All great things to celebrate during this time of year. I think that instead of parents explaining to their kids that unfortunately they couldn't afford a wii, instead they should try teaching some of the principles that Kwanzaa celebrates. Do you think kids in Africa don't enjoy their holiday season because they aren't getting Rock Band? I think not. The above principles resenate far deeper and for far longer than material gifts.

As good 'ol Wikipedia reads: Kwanzaa was not created to give people an alternative to their own religion or religious holiday. And it is not an alternative to people's religion or faith but a common ground of African culture...Kwanzaa is not a reaction or substitute for anything. In fact, it offers a clear and self-conscious option, opportunity and chance to make a proactive choice, a self-affirming and positive choice as distinct from a reactive one." I think that Africa has it right and can teach the rest of the world a few things! Instead of looking to teach African countries I think that if we really look closely the rest of us can learn something from them. I recently read Globe and Mail African correspondant, Stephanie's reflection on Africa and this was reaffirmed once again. (check out the article, it's amazing

Anyway, I can't wait to get home to be with my family and the rest of my friends and take part in the celebration. Although this may be a stressful time of year, I could not have a better reward at the end of this exam time.

I will close with a quote from Kwanzaa founder Karenga:
Karenga's most recent interpretation emphasizes that while every people has its own holiday traditions, all people can share in the celebration of our common humanity: "Any particular message that is good for a particular people, if it is human in its content and ethical in its grounding, speaks not just to that people, it speaks to the world."

Joyous Kwanzaa!

p.s. to learn more about the Kwanzaa principles, Wikipedia Kwanzaa! ;)

The Free Life: How Come I Feel Like I'm Under Room Arrest?

So this is how it feels to be a first year undergrad around exam time.
I don't remember the last time I had a concept of time, be it the hours in a day, the days of the week or the time of year. People keep telling me that Christmas is quickly approaching but all I can focus on is studying, studying, studying and trying to keep my sanity. This weekend I deserted my 11 day role of going to Bikram Yoga everyday (hot yoga for those of you who aren't aware) because I just got too swept up. Yesterday was because I lost track of what day of the week it was and missed my class (my calandar only reads 'x' number of days until exams) and today I was swamped with studying because I stayed up too late last night (3:00) chatting it up with CL so I couldn't get my ass out of bed before 10:00 to be productive.
Here's what I ate today to give you an example of what mass studying does to you. Because breaking for food is often a 1 1/2 hour commitment (due to awesome conversation and friends coming and going) it is best to avoid the caf if you want to get any work done. So today I did just that. (Oh, and I have like, 14 food points left to last me until Wednesday, so I can't really afford to eat :P). I started the morning off with a healthy breakfast of oatmeal in my coffee cup cooked by hot water from my kettle. Then for lunch I proceeded to eat a bag of popcorn over the course of studying this afternoon, munched on some raisins and balanced my diet with some snow peas. I only faced the elements (the wind and snow here is wonderfully blusterous) with Andrew to get a piece of pizza around 6 (this was a great way to polish off a super healthy week of just eating kapha balancing foods.)
So you may be wondering why the hell I'm giving you details about my diet, but it's just another example of how HANOUS everything has become during exam time. Oh, and half of the reason I decided to start a blog on a night looming before an exam is because of a cup of coffee (half of which I poured on my carpet, good on me.) Caffeine just jacks me now that I've been without for a good three to four weeks! Wonderful.
Anyway, the wind is blowing super hard against my window sending shivers through my bones! Woohoo! Oh and I love how everyone on the coast flips a lid that there is 2 inches of snow and the Times is telling everyone DON'T DRIVE! Haha, in Kamloops last year I would have liked to see them drive in the white out to pick Larissa up from badminton, yeah there were no visible lines on the road, you couldn't see infront of you and you're brakes didn't really work but hell I survived. In fact, I still feel a sense of accomplishment, hence why I am sharing this.
Last night was pretty epic though! When there was enough snow covering the ground Andrew and I went outside to frolic and sure enough sooooo many other kids were outside too. Andrew said, "I haven't seen this many kids outside the caf since September!" It was pretty sweet. The concrete jungle turned into a ruthless snowball slinging battleground, all around Ring snowballs were flying and everyone was kicking up the white stuff, laughing, falling on their asses and having the time of their lives at around 11:00 pm. I even heard that a lot of kids were sliding down Sinclair on caf trays as toboggans. Haha, I wish I saw it! Instead, Pierre, Andrew and I took a stroll across the Quad to MacLaurin and everything was so still and beautiful. Everyone out was awestruck!
Well this concludes the single most boring first blog entry EVER. I talked about what I ate, how I've lost track of all time and then, (the cincher) the fucking weather.
Well, at least that sets low expectation for the future!